Narrative construction of the social entrepreneurial identity

Robert Jones (Faculty of Business and Enterprise, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia)
James Latham (Faculty of Business and Enterprise, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia)
Michela Betta (Faculty of Business and Enterprise, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Publication date: 1 August 2008

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the process by which the social entrepreneurial identity can be constructed through narrative, concentrating specifically on the construction of the identity of the ideologically inclined social‐activist entrepreneur.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study approach is employed of a social‐activist entrepreneur who established a refugee help centre in a major Australian city. The data are presented through the genre of allowing the narrator to enjoy the primary voice in the form of an extended narrative.

Findings

The findings show how the social entrepreneur constructs his identity through crafted divisions based on oppositional and appositional principles of setting apart (a claim of separation) and bringing together (a claim of similarity). It is emphasised how the impact of the particular audience and the possibility of narrative omissions can both influence the narrative product as it is constructed by the social entrepreneur.

Practical implications

The analysis has implications for our manner of understanding how ideologically inclined social entrepreneurs can experience the tension of lacing together potentially contrasting discourses while maintaining the overall integrative nature of their narrative.

Originality/value

The findings possess value and originality by making two major contributions to the extant literature. First, we challenge the central tendency in the literature to concentrate on dominant discourses by analysing the manner in which ideological social entrepreneurs construct their identity through their joint crafting of the discourses of “Me” and “Not‐Me”, and the non‐discourse of “Suppressed‐Me”. Second, we add to the literature on how informants deal with the tension of managing conflicting discourses by analysing the concept of “discourse suppression” as the narrative tendency of social activist entrepreneurs.

Keywords

Citation

Jones, R., Latham, J. and Betta, M. (2008), "Narrative construction of the social entrepreneurial identity", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 14 No. 5, pp. 330-345. https://doi.org/10.1108/13552550810897687

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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